Photo from Mount Royal, Frisco, Colorado.

"That is happiness; to be disolved into something complete and great. When it comes to one, it comes as naturally as sleep." - Willa Cather

Tuesday 30 December 2008

On Armpit Hair

We've returned from Austria and Germany. And it was wonderful.

It was nice to come back to weather that is above freezing. Man, I don't miss the Midwest one bit at this time of year.

I felt compelled to share my thoughts on armpit hair since I recently had that little survey on the subject in the right-hand column. I was not surprised that the majority of my readers find armpit hair "disgusting." I used to feel the same way. Why? Well, it just seemed gross.

When I was 19 and living in France, I saw a picture of a model in a magazine with armpit hair. I thought it looked so beautiful compared to those hair nubbins in the underarm one can never completely shave away anyway. So I stopped shaving. When I returned to the US, I got some strange looks in lockerooms. So I started shaving again.

But I never felt comfortable with it. Here's why:

1. There is a lot of chaffing in the pits while running if you don't have a completely smooth shave every day.
2. Armpit hair just looks better than poorly shaven pits.
3. It takes time to shave pits.
4. I have a pigmented papilloma in the middle of my left armpit that I was sick of nicking.

The only drawback is that people stare.

Happily, when I started dating SR, he said he liked unshaven pits. Perhaps we're a perfect storm, or perhaps we'll help turn the tide.

Why, I ask you, should women shave their pits? What is disgusting about not shaving?

We could discuss shaving in other places, of course, but this is of particular importance to me because of the chaffing while running. I'd love to hear other opinions.

Happy new year!

Thursday 18 December 2008


Tomorrow we are leaving for a Christmas trip to Austria with SR's family. I can't believe we are leaving with so much to organize in our lives. Our apartment is just starting to feel like a home and now we are leaving for 9 days. Seven in Kappl, Austria and then two visiting a friend of mine in Cologne, Germany.

Of course it will be great fun, but I feel like a nomad and I'm getting sick of it.

The Lorax has just gotten used to daycare. He goes to a "dagpleje" every weekday. A dagpleje is a woman who watches after up to six children between the ages of 10 months and 3 years. She watches them in her home. Ours is so nice. She makes all of the food herself and it's all "ecological", she has the kids play outside as much as possible, and today she sent The Lorax home with Christmas presents. His handprint in plaster for SR and his footprint in plaster for me. We were so touched. I should mention that this care is payed for by the Danish government. People wonder why this is the happiest place to live; well, that's one reason to add to the list.

Today I had my first meeting with my caseworker here who helps me with integration. He told me that the government has already agreed to pay for my entire language course for foreign doctors. That course will last for two months and then I'll (hopefully) enter the workforce. He then gave me a big boost of confidence when he said I had the best Danish of anyone he'd ever helped to integrate. I feel so stupid most of the time not being fluent yet, so that comment came at just the right time.

The first week we were here, SR was so down about leaving the kids that I thought our lives would just unravel, but things have gotten better. We're starting to feel settled and happy. We talk with the kids often and are looking forward to their visit and our trips home and then step-daughter moving here in July.

And SR's hematology fellowship sounds great. Just 37 hours a week and much higher pay than fellowships in the US. Not bad.

Also, we have found a use for the bidet.

Since I won't get the chance to write before then, Glædelig Jul!

Friday 12 December 2008

New Apartment

We were able to find just two apartments for rent in Næstved (where we're going to live for the next 7 months). They were both nice, but SR liked one and I liked the other. After an exhausting battle, we went with my favorite because it was cheaper. Drumroll...


Picture from dining room into living room and extra living room.

The kitchen.

We didn't get a picture of the bathroom. It is enormous, but there are no lights, no shelves, and nothing to hold up a toilet paper roll. There is a bidet, however.

One of the two bedrooms.

We rented a Mercedes Sprinter to move many furniture items loaned to us by SR's parents. Moving was a bit rushed as there were no lights in the apartment. Luckily we did bring a couple of lamps along. We are soon going to get a lesson in the wiring of ceiling lights.

Here's the view. This was the first sunny day since our arrival over two weeks ago.

Chocolate celebration back at Farmor and Farfar's.

As you can see, The Bois has learned to take his own picture.

Saturday 6 December 2008

First race in Denmark

One nice thing about Denmark is that races start at reasonable times. Today's race began at 10:00 am. I've never understood why Americans need to get up so early on the weekend to race. Anyway.

We woke up after a delightful sleep and had a little breakfast. I ate oatmeal. We ran about 3 miles to the race start. The race was next to Bagsværd Sø (sø means lake). There is a beautiful hilly forest with trails all around the lake.

Danes all wear expensive running gear. If you show up in cotton, you're sure to get strange looks. They also all wear spandex-type pants. I felt out of place in my six year old baggy black pants from The Express and my big turquoise mittens. There were, needless to say, quite a few women with serious running gear on.

I thought to mysef Jeg er helt vildt nervøs (I'm completely crazy-nervous). I figured I'd be third woman. This was a small race with about 70 people.

We looked at the confusing route on a map and then warmed up on it a bit. SR stopped in front of a mud wall and then began to fumble up it. "This is the last hill." I laughed and then realized he wasn't joking. I started up it and slipped all over the place in my racing flats. Why didn't I wear my trail shoes? Well, I accidentally packed them in the container that's coming in a couple of weeks.

This was an 8.2 km race. At the start line they said that there would be prizes for the first three men and the first woman. I never thought of Denmark as a chauvanist country. Quite the contrary. I should say there were more men than women at the race.

I started out in the middle of the pack and became that annoying person who passes lots of people right at the start. One woman gave me a surprised look when I passed her so quickly. As it turns out, that woman always wins the races around here.

So the race was up and down muddy, wet trails in the woods. And we ran around 4 circles, each about 1k longer than the one before. It was a great set-up. I was surprised to be able to see SR for the first two laps. And I was leading the women by at least a minute at the half-way point. I didn't keep track of time. I don't know my km splits. I just ran as fast as I could with a pretty good sense of how much race was ahead of me.

I stayed with the same men the whole race. I enjoyed listening to "Journey of the Featherless" by Cloud Cult over and over. In short races, I've made a habit of only listening to one song. SR and I were the only ones with MP3's/ipods.

It was a beautiful dark, cloudy, wet morning. And it felt so good to run fast.

With less than 1km left, before the final mud wall/hill, I saw SR win. I figured if I could avoid falling while scaling the wet mud, I'd be the first woman. Breathless, I survived the wall and ran downhill to the finish-line. My time was just over 34 minutes. So that's about 6:40 min miles and 4:10 min kms.

We both won 100 Kroner to Føtex (That's about $20 to a Wal-Mart type store). Cool!

I talked with the second place woman afterwards, who came in at 36 minutes. She was really nice and lives in the area. She made fun of me for not knowing my exact time. Part of me felt bad about coming in and crashing the party and winning. But then again, as SR said later, I didn't feel that bad. It was a lot of fun, after all, for us both to win.

I loved meeting people afterwards and trying to speak Danish with them. It turned out the race director has a sister who lives in the very same town we just moved from in the Midwest. It was an extreme small-world moment when he said where his sister lived. We hadn't met her though.

I'm so excited about races in Denmark now. Our next one will be a marathon in January. I'm guessing that it'll be a bit tougher for us both to win that one. But I love the challenge.

Wednesday 3 December 2008


Well, we made it. And thank goodness they let me take this as a carry-on...

Although I felt badly that we put him through such a long journey. We didn't reserve a seat for him, but ended up with an open one next to us on all three flights. He didn't cry at all and slept on every flight. He played and smiled with everyone who paid attention to him. But he did end up with terrible jet lag and spiking fevers the first two days we were here.

There was also a rather embarrassing moment on the flight. You see, I'm used to breastfeeding and sleeping at the same time when we're in bed. This scenario happened on the plane (without my full consciousness) and I didn't realize I had a completely exposed boob until I looked over at the young German guy next to me who was staring at my chest with eyes the size of teacups. (no, I don't have a photo of that)

We've been here a week now, living out of SR's parents' basement. Without them, it is frightening to think of how much Danish kroner we would have spent.

Yesterday we found our apartment in Næstved. It's a 3 bedroom with wood floors, high ceilings and big windows in the center of the historic downtown. It was a really lucky find (and quite cheap). We looked everywhere and apartments were only available to buy. But then we ran across a bank that rented out apartments.

Otherwise, we're still running, just not as much as usual. My legs were incredibly tired with the jet lag. And even now our long runs are shorter because we're just tired from restless sleep, three family Christmas gatherings and more walking around. We're running a race on Saturday (a 5 miler). I'm scared of how poorly I will fare. How out of shape can one possibly become in 1 week?

Also, the weather here is, well, wet. I was used to the upper midwest USA's cold. But though it's not even below freezing here, the air is so dense with moisture that the cold seeps right through your skin. Nearly every day my feet go numb.

But it's beautiful running. We've run in various ancient forests filled with trails and even had a run by the ocean. The paths are often lined with a plant called snebær. On the rare occasions that the sun is shining, the flowers look like enormous dew drops.

Running song of the day: I've got your number by Passion Pit (great, great, great, great song)